March 2001 Motorsport News



01.03.2001

F1:- Michael Schumacher has been ordered to wear a certain sponsor's crash helmet by a Belgian court or pay millions of dollars in damages. A Belgium-based helmets distributor was granted an injunction forcing the world champion to stop appearing in a rival firm's helmet which he claims is safer. Schumacher must now use the helmet in training and at the Melbourne Grand Prix on Sunday. Otherwise he must pay $1.1m in damages for every day he does not wear it.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis has insisted that he is not perturbed by the problems that have hit the team's new car in pre-season testing. Ahead of the first race of the season in Melbourne on Sunday, Dennis said: "There is no question that we have suffered a whole range of problems. That is what testing is all about. I would rather have a fast unreliable car than a slow reliable car. The quest for reliability is a smaller one than making a slow car quick."

BMW, Daimler-Benz, Ford, Renault and Fiat have threatened to organise a breakaway world championship. The teams are considering the action in protest at moves by German media group Kirch to take control of broadcasting rights for Formula One. The European Automobile Constructors' Association (ACEA) is eager itself to gain a stake in Formula One. ACEA said it was "unacceptable" to limit broadcasts of F1 to pay-per-view television companies such as Kirch.

Sports drink group Red Bull is ending its sponsorship deal with Sauber at the end of this year.

F.RENAULT 2000 (Snetterton):- Leighton Walker headed impressive American Vincent Apple in another rain hit testing session. Karting graduates Allen Simonsen, Matt Griffin, Daniel Welch, Heikki Kovalainen and reigning world champion Colin Brown also impressed.

Testing times:               mins secs
1 L Walker     GB   Manor     1:14.281
2 V Apple      US   Paston    1:14.533
3 A Simonsen   Den  PBR/Brask 1:15.578
4 M Fairuz     Mal  Aztek     1:15.752
5 M McLoughlin GB   Motaworld 1:16.571
6 L Mussi      Brz  Motaworld 1:17.266




02.03.2001

F1: THE AUSTRALIAN GP
Michael Schumacher walked away unhurt from a spectacular crash during the season's first practice session. The world champion barrel-rolled twice as his Ferrari flipped up after hitting the coloured gravel at Albert Park but he was able to walk away unscathed. Schumacher was second behind Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello before the accident occurred. Barrichello set the fastest time of one minute, 28.965 seconds ahead of Jarno Trulli with Schumacher third.

Michael Schumacher blamed the design of the Albert Park circuit after crashing in practice for this year's first race. The champion, who was unhurt after the incident, said he walked the circuit on Thursday and was worried about raised lips around the edge of gravel traps. "I know exactly what happened and now I am going to talk to the officials about it. I think it needs to be repaired for this weekend," he said. "It was lucky for me the impact was not heavier, it could have been worse."

Jenson Button had a disappointing start to his Benetton career as he finished 21st out of 22 drivers in the opening practice for Sunday's race. The Briton was nearly four-and-a-half seconds slower than leader Rubens Barrichello and had to drive on three wheels after a wheel fell off his car. "This was not a very satisfactory day but it will get better," he said. "I had an engine problem at the end of the first session and had a problem with my rear tyre in the second."

Friday's practice times:
 1 R Barrichello Brz Ferrari  1:28.965
 2 J Trulli      It  Jordan   1:29.267
 3 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:29.284
 4 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:29.324
 5 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:29.799
 6 R Schumacher  Ger Williams 1:30.277
 7 N Heidfeld    Ger Sauber   1:30.345
 8 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:30.802
 9 J Alesi       Fr  Prost    1:31.089
10 O Panis       FR  BAR      1:31.166
11 K Raikkonen   Fin Sauber   1:31.453
12 J Villeneuve  Can BAR      1:31.559
13 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:31.573
14 J Verstappen  Hol Arrows   1:31.689
15 JP Montoya    Col Williams 1:31.721
16 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:32.475
17 F Alonso      Sp  Minardi  1:32.587
18 L Burti       Brz Jaguar   1:33.011
19 G Mazzacane   Arg Prost    1:33.153
20 E Bernoldi    Brz Arrows   1:33.203
21 J Button      GB  Benetton 1:33.403
22 T Marques     Brz Minardi  1:36.463

Michael Schumacher will reluctantly wear a sponsor's helmet after a court injunction to stop him appearing in a different one which he feels is safer. Schumacher wore his old helmet during Friday's first practice when he escaped unscathed from a crash. He told reporters the court ruling did not apply until midnight Friday Australian time. "After this decision I am forced to use the helmet which obviously is not what I wish to do," he said.

RALLYING:- The North Humberside Forest Rally, which was scheduled for March 31, has been cancelled. Organisers hope to restage the event in the summer with Saturday, July 14 a possible date. The motorcycle meeting at Mallory Park this Sunday, March 4, will be going ahead after organisers took advice over the foot-and-mouth disease crisis.

BTCC:- Scotland's Colin Blair and Gavin Pyper have signed with GA-Janspeed Racing for the 2001 BTCC Production Championship.

BRITISH GTs:- Terry Rymer has signed to race for Harlow Motorsport in the British GT Championship this season. Rymer, the 1999 World Superbike Endurance Champion, will team up with Adam Simmons in one of the team's Porsche 911GT3s.



03.03.2001 - F1: THE AUSTRALIAN GP

Michael Schumacher took pole position for Sunday's race as Ferrari eclipsed McLaren in the qualifying session. Schumacher will be joined on the front row by team-mate Rubens Barrichello. Mika Hakkinen was third fastest and David Coulthard, who had broken the Albert Park lap record in the second practice session, was sixth. Luciano Burti escaped unhurt from a crash that held up the session, while Eddie Irvine was 12th quickest and Jenson Button was 16th.

World champion Michael Schumacher praised the Ferrari mechanics after he earned his first Melbourne pole. The German said: "It is thanks to the mechanics, who had a very late night or an early morning after my little problem yesterday." Schumacher was, of course, referring to his practice crash on Friday that took apart his Ferrari. He added: "It is a great achievement. Ferrari had a great car last year and we have one now. This one is better."

Rubens Barrichello was pleased after he clocked the second-fastest time in the qualifying session. "I have had a lack of time on the track but I am happy," he stated. "I was fighting for pole and can fight for the race. I am feeling very optimistic." Mika Hakkinen was third and admitted: "I did not get the best out of the car. I always had a problem somewhere. I was losing time but I am reasonably pleased and I am confident we can get a good car for the race."

Jenson Button remained philosophical after he could only manage the 16th fastest position in qualifying. The Briton has joined Benetton on loan from Williams and he insisted: "It has not gone too badly considering all the problems we have had this weekend. I have not had much track time and therefore have not got much work done on new tyres." And he added: "Sixteenth position, considering all this and our expectations, is quite respectable."

Jaguar star Eddie Irvine finished 12th fastest in qualifying and revealed that it was a better start to the season than he had expected. "I am pretty positive about where I ended up, which is much closer to the midfield runners than I thought I would be," he commented. His team-mate Luciano Burti was 21st but his session was halted when he crashed out. Burti was unhurt and said: "It felt like something broke on the car."

Juan Pablo Montoya will start Sunday's race in 11th place but Williams' Formula One new boy felt he could have finished higher up the grid. The Colombian revealed: "I am very disappointed with my last run. There was a lot of room to go much faster. On my last trial I was sure I was going to have a good lap and suddenly, at the exit of turn four, I had a problem with Enrique Bernoldi. When I went into the turn he just turned in front of me."

Herefordshire-based Australian Minardi owner Paul Stoddart was delighted after both his team's cars qualified for Sunday's race. Teenager Fernando Alonso finished 19th and 22nd-placed Tarso Marques can race after an appeal despite finishing outside the qualifying time limit. "This is a just reward for six-and-half weeks of relentless effort by everyone in the European Minardi team," he said. "This weekend we have earned the respect of our peers in the pit-lane."

Saturday's qualifying times: mins secs
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:26.892
 2 R Barrichello Brz Ferrari  1:27.263
 3 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:27.461
 4 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:27.658
 5 R Schumacher  Ger Williams 1:27.719
 6 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:28.010
 7 J Trulli      It  Jordan   1:28.377
 8 J Villeneuve  Can BAR      1:28.435
 9 O Panis       Fr  BAR      1:28.518
10 N Heidfeld    Ger Sauber   1:28.615
11 JP Montoya    Col Williams 1:28.738
12 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:28.965
13 K Raikkonen   Fin Sauber   1:28.993
14 J Alesi       Fr  Prost    1:29.893
15 J Verstappen  Ned Arrows   1:29.934
16 J Button      GB  Benetton 1:30.035
17 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:30.209
18 E Bernoldi    Brz Arrows   1:30.520
19 F Alonso      Sp  Minardi  1:30.657
20 G Mazzacane   Arg Prost    1:30.798
21 L Burti       Brz Jaguar   1:30.978
22 T Marques     Brz Minardi  1:33.228

Stewards say Marques can race, despite being
outside qualifying standard




04.03.2001

F1: THE AUSTRALIAN GP
World champion Michael Schumacher clinched his second straight victory Down Under but the triumph was marred by the death of a track marshal. Ralf Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve crashed on lap five and were unhurt but a marshal was hit by flying debris. David Coulthard was second and Rubens Barrichello third but Mika Hakkinen went out on lap 25. Kimi Raikkonen was sixth on his debut, Eddie Irvine was 11th and Jenson Button (14th) failed to finish.

The Confederation of Australian Motorsport issued a statement following the death of a track marshal. It said that the official, who was at turn three, was from Queensland and that seven spectators were treated for minor injuries but were discharged. "The Australian Grand Prix Corporation deeply regrets the tragic death of an honorary track marshall," said the AGPC in a statement. And they added that the marshal's family will be offered counselling.

Race-winner Michael Schumacher and second and third-placed David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello were told after the race that a track marshal had died. The three did not celebrate on the podium and Schumacher said: "We have just been told that the marshal did die and we are all shocked by this." A crash led to the marshal being hit by debris and is the second time in a year that a marshal has been killed. Paolo Ghislimberti died at Monza last year when he was also hit by debris.

Second-placed David Coulthard said that trackside safety must be looked at following the death of a marshal. The fatality happened after a crash on lap five. The Scot stated: "Our thoughts are with his family. And we have to look at what we can do for the safety of these people who give their time for us to go racing. Six points are pretty insignificant when there is loss of life involved."

Former world champion Jackie Stewart has called for higher fences and more protection following the death of a track marshal in the season opener. Stewart said something had to be done to catch flying debris. "We've got to do even more about tying the wheels together...we need to do it even for wings and so forth," he said. "You have to ring-fence the race tracks with higher and stronger debris fences. You then have to police where the marshals stand."

Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker has defended the organisers' decision not to stop the race after a track marshal was hit by car debris. The marshal died but Walker said: "It is not up to me to stop the race. It is up to the officials to look after that. The track is inspected every day. We have a certificate to run the race and we do comply with all the rules. If you want to build a concrete wall around the track you will not have any spectators."

The British American Racing team are in mourning after debris from their car killed a track marshal. BAR's team principal Craig Pollock issued a statement after the race on behalf of the sombre team. "On behalf of Jacques, the British American Racing team and myself I would like to express our sincere condolences to his family," he said. "Rest assured that we intend to cooperate fully with the official investigation."

Polesitter Michael Schumacher drove away cleanly at the start to lead the race but his Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello had a poor getaway. He lost second place to Mika Hakkinen and then Heinz-Harald Frentzen also squeezed past and he slipped to fifth. But Frentzen and Barrichello collided on lap three and the Brazilian eventually moved up into third place and the German slipped to 14th. David Coulthard slipped from sixth to seventh but by lap four was fourth.

The safety car was sent out on the sixth lap after a horrifying collision involving Canadian Jacques Villeneuve and German Ralf Schumacher on lap five. Villeneuve's BAR flew into the safety barrier and Schumacher's Williams also skidded off but both drivers were unhurt in the crash. But it was revealed that a marshal was hit by a piece of debris and it was later confirmed that he has died. The safety car came in at the end of the 15th lap.

Mika Hakkinen failed to finish the Australian Grand Prix for the third year in a row. He went out on lap 25 when he straight- lined a corner and crashed into a tyre barrier with what is thought to be a suspension or brake failure. The double world champion was slightly concussed and had been lying in second place behind Michael Schumacher. Coulthard, meanwhile, moved up into second place on the 32nd lap when he got past Rubens Barrichello.

BAR driver Olivier Panis lost his fourth place in the Australian Grand Prix after being given a 25-second time penalty for a yellow flag infringement. The penalty means that he drops to seventh place and BAR lose their driver and constructor points for the race. The amended result means Nick Heidfeld, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Kimi Raikkonen all move up one place. Panis was penalised for overtaking while the race was being run under yellow flag conditions.

Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher were lucky to escape unscathed from the crash on the fifth lap that led to the death of a track marshal. The 1997 world champion Villeneuve revealed: "Ralf was in the middle of the track and I was not sure whether to go for the outside or the inside. I went for the outside and Ralf braked and it was too late for me to move out of the way. The crash felt hard. My back is a little tight but it is nothing major."

British American Racing managing director Craig Pollock admitted that the team had been hit hard by the death of a track marshal. He was killed by debris after a crash between BAR's Jacques Villeneuve and Williams driver Ralf Schumacher. Pollock said: "On behalf of Jacques, the BAR team and myself I would like to express our sincere condolences to the marshal's family. We intend to co-operate fully with the official investigation."

Ralf Schumacher was upset after learning that a marshal had been killed following the Williams driver's collision with Jacques Villeneuve. The German said: "I am awfully sorry that a man who was looking after our safety was killed. My deepest sympathy goes to his relatives and friends. I was on the inside of the track going my way and being careful not to make any change of line. I braked and I suddenly felt a huge bang and saw Jacques flying over me."

Juan Pablo Montoya was disappointed that his first race ended with a retirement on the 41st lap when the Colombian was lying in third place. He commented: "It is disappointing that I could not see the chequered flag because I had a good race. I think Williams and BMW did a fantastic job and my Michelin tyres were performing really well. The engine blew up without giving me any warning. I am quite confident that we are going to show well this season."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis was delighted with David Coulthard's second place in the Australian Grand Prix. "David drove a great race and his overtaking manoeuvre to claim second was superb. "Combined with a well-executed race strategy, his result was well deserved," said Dennis. Coulthard's team-mate Mika Hakinnen crashed out on lap 25 and Dennis confirmed that the accident was caused by front right suspension failure.

Eddie Irvine was frustrated that he did not finish in the points. After coming home in 11th position, the Jaguar star admitted: "It could have been better to be honest. And it is never a good day if you do not finish in the points. I had to use the spare car because of a power steering failure. It did not get off the line as well as my race car. Juan Pablo Montoya tried to overtake me and knocked me off but there will be no repercussions."

Luciano Burti was happy to have finished the first race of 2001 in eighth position. "I was pleased with my start because I managed to overtake a few people on the first lap," he enthused. "I pushed hard throughout the race and I am very happy to have finished in eighth place. We changed the brakes from this morning's warm-up and they felt much better. We will now focus our efforts towards getting more pace."

Jenson Button felt there were some positive moments to come out of the race for Benetton. He failed to finish but was classified as 14th but he said: "I was very impressed with how good the car was off the line and I pulled up to 11th. There was a problem, which we think was the exhaust. It meant I had to stop so close to the end of the race." He was also hit by a stop-go penalty during the race and it was believed to be for arriving late on the grid.

Arrows driver Jos Verstappen finished the race in ninth place on what was his 29th birthday. The Dutchman said: "I had a really good start, passed about four cars there and by the time the safety car came out I was up to seventh. Settling into the race I had a lot of understeer so was not able to push as hard as I would have liked. But most important for the team is that we finished the first race. We know what we have to do now."

Minardi are treating Fernando Alonso's 12th place as a victory for the team. It follows months of uncertainty over whether Minardi would be in existence for the start of the season. Australian businessman Paul Stoddart bought out the team and he said: "When we came to Melbourne, just arriving felt like winning a grand prix. When we qualified I felt it could not get any better but to take 12th place - there are just no words to describe that feeling."

Result after 58 laps:        hr min sec
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari 1:38.26.53
 2 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren 1:38.28.25
 3 R Barrichello Brz Ferrari 1:39.00.24
 4 N Heidfeld    Ger Sauber  1:39.38.01
 5 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan  1:39.39.34
 6 K Raikkonen   Fin Sauber  1:39.50.67
 7 O Panis       Fr  BAR     1:39.53.58
 8 L Burti       Brz Jaguar     one lap
 9 J Verstappen  Ned Arrows     one lap
10 J Alesi       Fr  Prost      one lap
11 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar     one lap
12 F Alonso      Sp  Minardi   two laps
13 G Fisichella  It  Benetton    3 laps
14 J Button      GB  Benetton  six laps

Panis was penalised 25 seconds for yellow flag infringement

DID NOT FINISH:
   J-P Montoya   Col Williams    40 laps
   J Trulli      It  Jordan      38
   M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren     25
   R Schumacher  Ger Williams     4
   J Villeneuve  Can BAR          4
   T Marques     Brz Minardi      3
   E Bernoldi    Brz Arrows       2
   G Mazzacane   Arg Prost        0

DRIVER STANDINGS
1 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari   10 pts
2 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren    6
3 R Barrichello Brz  Ferrari    4
4 N Heidfeld    Ger  Sauber     3
5 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Jordan     2
6 K Raikkonen   Fin  Sauber     1

CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Ferrari       14 pts
2 McLaren        6
3 Sauber         4
4 Jordan         2

ALMS (Dallas):- Rinaldo Capello claimed pole position for Sunday's 165-minute race with co-driver Tom Kristensen. Kristensen has replaced reigning ALMS champion Allan McNish in the Audi team after the latter became a Formula One test driver for Toyota. Capello's Audi teammate Frank Biela was disallowed though because of a technical violation. Biela's car was ruled to have a rear diffuser that exceeded the maximum height allowed.

Qualifying results (Sat):     min secs
 1 Capello/Kristensen Audi    1:16.350
 2 Brabham/Magnussen  Panoz   1:16.634
 3 Graf/Salles        Panoz   1:17.222
 4 Wallace/Schroeder  Audi    1:18.389
 5 Cochran/Dean       Panoz   1:21.852
 6 Fellows/O'Connell  Chev'et 1:23.963
 7 Pilgrims/Collins   Chev'et 1:24.106
 8 Luhr/Maassen       Porsche 1:25.653
 9 Pobst/Menzel       Porsche 1:26.259
10 Lehto/Muller       BMW     1:26.441




05.03.2001

F1:- Malaysian officials have said they are giving top priority to safety at their Grand Prix in a fortnight after the death of a marshal in Australia. Sepang Circuit chief Azmi Murad said training programmes had been conducted for all marshals and medical staff. Sepang is the world's newest Formula One venue and is also considered to be among the safest. "Sepang always gives top priority to the safety of drivers, the workforce and spectators," said Murad.

Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker said the crash which led to the death of a marsh l on Sunday was a "one in a billion" accident. The marshal was hit by a tyre which flew through an access hole in a steel mesh fence after a crash between Jaques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher. "For that wheel to have come through that small gap is amazing," he said. "There are more accidents in contact sports than in Formula One and we can't do anything to make the track safer."

The FIA have revealed that they already had plans to improve safety for track officials before the death of a marshal during the Australian Grand Prix. The 51-year-old marshal died from chest and abdominal injuries when he was hit by a tyre following a crash. FIA director of communications Francesco Longanesi said: "The FIA had already put forward the proposal to raise fencing by one metre. Not only car safety but trackside safety is subject to constant study."

Jackie Stewart's calls for improved safety at circuits have been played down by Sir Jack Brabham. In the wake of Sunday's Melbourne crash which killed a marshal, Stewart said: "We need bigger, higher and stronger safety fences. "We have to look at moving spectators back a bit and making sure marshals are in well-protected areas." But Brabham said: "It is pretty easy to say that but where do you stop? They do not want to go mad."

PARIS-DAKAR:- Jutta Kleinschmidt, the first woman to win the Paris-Dakar Rally could see her win overturned after third placed Jean- Louis Schlesser challenged the result. Schlesser, looking for a third straight win, came third because of two one hour penalties, finishing 23 minutes and 29 seconds behind Kleinschmidt. French newspaper L'Equipe says he has told his lawyer to challenge the second penalty, which could give him victory. An FIA panel should give its verdict in Paris on Tuesday afternoon.

BTCC:- The British Touring Car Championship are thrilled with the number of entries for this year's series. A total of 36 cars have been registered after a rule change designed to lower the cost of racing. Big names such as Yvan Muller and Jason Plato and MG Anthony Reid are joined by newcomers such as Paul O'Neill, brother of pop star Melanie C. "I'm very pleased with the number of entries for the 2001 championship," said series director Richard West.

ALMS:- Defending champions Audi began the defence of their title with victory in the opening round of the series. With Allan McNish absent concentrating on his Formula One testing commitments it was down to Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen to claim the win. They beat Audi team-mates Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro by seven-and-a-half seconds with another Audi driven by Oxford's Andy Wallace in fourth. The next round of the series is the Sebring 12-hour race on March 17.

Leading results (Sun):
 1 Capello/Kristensen Audi    117 laps
 2 Biela/Pirro        Audi   @07.511sec
 3 Brabham/Magnussen  Panoz  @25.632sec
 4 Wallace/Schroeder  Audi   @46.956sec
 5 Graf/Salles        Panoz  @  1 lap
 6 Cochran/Dean       Panoz  @  4 laps
 7 Fellows/O'Connell  Chev't @  9 laps
 8 Luhr/maassen       P'sche @  9 laps
 9 Pobst/Menzel       P'sche @ 10 laps
10 Said/Stuck         BMW    @ 10 laps
The next round of the series is the Sebring 12-hour race on March 17.




06.03.2001

F1:- Formula One officials may act to reduce the speed of cars after a marshal was killed at the Australian Grand Prix. Design changes saw cars lapping Albert Park four seconds quicker than in 2000, while increased competition among tyre manufacturers is also raising speeds. "If Malaysia and Brazil were to confirm the results from Melbourne, the FIA must act quickly," FIA president Max Mosley told Gazzetta dello Sport. The height of safety fences may also be increased following the incident.

The FIA have said that any extra safety measures implemented after the death of a marshal in Melbourne on Sunday must not compromise the safety of drivers. A marshal was killed by debris after a crash in the Australian Grand Prix. The FIA have launched an inquiry and electronic signalling may eventually be used in cars, leading to less marshals. Director of communications Francesco Longanesi said: "Marshals have a certain degree of exposure because they are there to signal and help."

RALLY OF PORTUGAL:- Portugal plays host to round three of the World Rally Championship and this year the base of the event has moved from Porto to Santa Maria da Feira. The rally opens with a super special at Baltar rallycross on Thursday and finishes on Sunday. Winter flooding has forced organisers to make alterations to some stages. Drivers will tackle 22 stages covering 390.14km in a total route of 1794km and after two inconsistent surfaces in the earlier rounds will move on to gravel.

Richard Burns is aiming to repeat last year's victory in Portugal to get his title hopes back on track. Burns and Petter Solberg have been nominated to score points but Subaru are also entering two Impreza WRC2001s for Markko Martin and Toshi Arai. Team principal David Lapworth told the Subaru website: "Petter and Markko performed beyond everyone's expectations in Sweden." It will be a team debut for Arai, last year's FIA Teams' Cup champion.

Colin McRae is targeting his third Rally of Portugal victory after triumphing in 1998 and 1999. However, the Scot knows he faces a tough task and he said: "Some of the stages are quite rough, especially around Arganil. There are a lot of loose rocks and the base bedrock becomes exposed by the edge of the road. So if you make a mistake and go off line it is easy to damage the car and a poor tyre choice makes a difference."

Championship leader and Spaniard Carlos Sainz will have a lot of home support for round three. The Ford star, who won in Portugal in 1991 and 1995, said: "Many people come across the border from Spain to support us, which gives us a good feeling. This will be our first gravel rally with Pirelli. Our confidence is high after two good results so far and after a second and third, let us hope that we can return with a first from Portugal."

Skoda want to consolidate on their third place position in the manufacturer standings with a good performance in round three. Belgian Bruno Thiry has scored points for Skoda in all of his three previous appearances for the team and will be eager to continue that record. "By all accounts it is going to be a very difficult rally this year but that could be good news for us," he said. "I understand it rained non-stop in the area for three months in the winter."

Natalie Barratt will be making her Portuguese debut having finished 29th overall and seventh in the FIA Teams' Cup in the recent Swedish Rally. And Cheshire's Barratt will team up with Australian co-driver Claire Parker for the first time. Barratt commented: "As I have not rallied in Portugal before I needed some good advice before I arrived here. I spoke to five-times British Rally Champion Jimmy McRae. He says the roads are not as rough as they used to be."

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- German woman Jutta Kleinschmidt has been confirmed as winner of the Paris-Dakar rally after an appeal by Jean-Louis Schlesser was rejected. Third-placed Schlesser set off early on the penultimate stage and was hit with a one-hour time penalty as a result. The then leader Hiroshi Masuoka lost crucial time on that stage leaving victory to Kleinschmidt. The FIA said its Court of Appeal confirmed the outcome that saw the German become the first female winner.

RALLYING:- The Pirelli International rally has been postponed because of the ongoing foot-and-mouth crisis. The event, originally scheduled for April 28-29, will now take place at the end of October. A spokesman said it was felt: "that it would be insensitive to go ahead even if the foot-and-mouth crisis is over." The Rally of Wales has already been postponed so the British championship is likely to start with the Kumho Tyres Scottish Rally in Dumfries on June 9.




07.03.2001

F1:- The gap between rich and poor in Formula One is increasing due to the number of test cars teams can afford to use says Jaguar boss Bobby Rahal. Ferrari recorded more than 4,000 test kilometres during the off-season while Minardi tested their car just one week before the Melbourne practice session. Rahal told Motoring News: "Teams like Williams have three cars working on different things. It's purely based on how much money you have, which means a wider gap."

F1: TESTING TEAMS (Silverstone):-

Wednesday's test times:
1 J Herbert     GB  Arrows   1:25.429
2 M Webber      Aus Benetton 1:25.790
3 P de la Rosa  Ap  Jaguar   1:26.633
4 M Gene        Sp  Williams 1:27.056
5 T Scheckter   SA  Jaguar   1:27.772

RALLYING:- Mitsubishi have taken on former Ferrari Formula One employee Ed Wood as technical head of engineering at their world championship team.

FORMULA RALLY RALLY CHALLENGE

Calendar of races for 2001
June 9     Scottish National Rally
July 7     Cardiff Rally
August 26  Rally of Ireland
Sept 29    York Rally
October 13 Rally of Kent
October 27 Pirelli Carlisle Rally
November 3 Oxford Rally
TBA        Wrexham Rally




10.03.2001

F1: SILVERSTONE TESTING Fastest times from third and final day of testing on Friday. mins secs 1 P de la Rosa Jaguar 1:24.697 2 M Webber Benetton 1:25.742 3 R Zonta Jordan 1:25.750 4 M Gene Williams 1:26.846 5 J Herbert Arrows 1:26.961

CART (Monterrey):- Dario Franchitti has been warned that if he does not switch to Formula One soon then he could miss out totally. Franchitti, who is set to launch his new Champ Car campaign in Mexico on Sunday, tested for Jaguar last year. But he was disappointing and the then Jaguar test driver Luciano Burti was signed as a team driver for this year. Jaguar boss Bobby Rahal said: "He is still young enough but if he is going to join Formula One with any team it has to be this year."

The 21-race CART FedEx Championship, which begins in Mexico on Sunday, will include races in Great Britain and Germany for the first time. The Rockingham Oval will stage the UK race and Scot Dario Franchitti will be bidding to give Britain the title. Franchitti has clocked some impressive times in his Team KOOL Green car in pre-season testing. "I feel we should hit the track in Mexico in full stride, ready to challenge for pole and a win," he said.

RALLY OF PORTUGAL:- Tommi Makinen was the master of the mud as the weather caused chaos on the first day of the Rally of Portugal. The Finn built up a lead of 17.4 secs at the end of the day which saw two stages scrapped on safety grounds. Makinen, Carlos Sainz and Harri Rovanpera regularly clocked the fastest times over the stages as Richard Burns and Colin McRae struggled in the rain. The drivers move south-east on Saturday to Santa Maria da Feira where they hope to complete nine stages over 177.36km.

Colin McRae and Richard Burns were both angry at the conditions which they said made a mockery of the event. McRae was forced out by engine trouble but said he was not upset at having to stop as driving was so difficult. "I was forced to stop but I wasn't enjoying driving anyway. The only thing it was good for was mud wrestling," said the Scot. "The fact Tommi took more than a minute off me, Colin and Marcus Gronholm shows it's not real competition" said Burns.

Positions after 10 stages: hr min secs
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mit'bishi 1:27:34.8
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Ford      @    17.4
 3 H Rovanpera Fin Peugeot   @    26.3
 4 M Gronholm  Fin Peugeot   @  1:18.8
 5 R Burns     GB  Subaru    @  2:12.5
 6 F Loix      Bel Mit'bishi @  3:06.4
 7 F Delecour  Fr  Ford      @  3:29.9
 8 M Martin    Est Subaru    @  4:40.9
 9 K Eriksson  Swe Hyundai   @  5:14.1
10 A McRae     GB  Hyundai   @  5:53.0
Stages six/seven cancelled - mud

RENAULT CLIO CUP (Donington Park):- Daniel Buxton finished just a tenth of a second off the Donington Park lap record to set the pace in the first test of the season. Newcomers Martin Byford, Tim Mullen and Vince Martin were all in the top six.

Testing times:               mins secs
1 D Buxton     Sugden         1:49.943
2 M Byford     Z-Speed        1:50.110
3 J Templeman  TCR            1:50.259
4 T Mullen     Firstair       1:50.566
5 V Martin     Martin M-Sport 1:50.678
6 J Edwards    TCR            1:51.076

F.RENAULT (Donington Park):- Three drivers shattered Kimi Raikkonen's Formula Renault lap record in testing. Karting graduates Matt Griffin and Heikki Kovalainen also excelled in fourth and fifth spots respectively.

Testing times:                min secs
1 L Walker     GB   Manor     1:33.100
2 R Antinucci  US   Manor     1:33.382
3 C Breeze     GB   Motaworld 1:33.678
4 M Griffin    Ire  Manor     1:34.069
5 K Kovalainen Fin  Fortec    1:34.165
6 C Hall       GB   Saxon     1:34.250

INDY LIGHTS:- England's Dan Wheldon makes his debut in the CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship this weekend. The 22-year-old will be racing the new Fundidora Park circuit at Monterrey.



10.03.2001

F1:- Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine has admitted he is worried about the heat in Malaysia, where the next Grand Prix takes place on March 18. Irvine needs a good finish after coming 11th in Melbourne amid speculation he will not be with Jaguar next season. "At this stage the cars don't need hot weather. It's going to be even hotter than it has in recent years so we'll be need to be fit too," said Irvine. CART star Dario Franchitti is the most likely replacement if Irvine is axed.

CART (Monterrey):- The 21-race CART FedEx Championship, which begins in Mexico on Sunday, will include races in Great Britain and Germany for the first time. The Rockingham Oval will stage the UK race and Scot Dario Franchitti will be bidding to give Britain the title. Franchitti has clocked some impressive times in his Team KOOL Green car in pre-season testing. "I feel we should hit the track in Mexico in full stride, ready to challenge for pole and a win," he said.

RALLY OF PORTUGAL:- Tommi Makinen takes a 13-second lead into Sunday's final three stages after battling through appalling conditions. The Finn opened up his advantage over Carlos Sainz after nine stages in pouring rain, mist and deep mud. The event has turned into a duel between the pair with world champion Marcus Gronholm over two minutes back in third place. Harri Rovanpera, Freddy Loix and Markko Martin were among the list of drivers forced to retire from the event.

Britain's Richard Burns slammed the organisers over safety issues after heavy fog made conditions treacherous. "We shouldn't be endangering the spectators," Burns said. "This is the worst-organised Rally of Portugal I've ever done. There were four/five thousand people at the end of a stage and when you're in sixth gear anything can happen." I'm having to guess at turning points and it wouldn't take much of a misjudgement to hit lots of people."

Positions after the second leg:hr min secs
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mit'bishi 3:19:17.3
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Ford      3:19:30.3
 3 M Gronholm  Fin Peugeot   3:21:29.4
 4 R Burns     GB  Subaru    3:22:24.0
 5 F Delecour  Fr  Ford      3:28:10.2
 6 A McRae     GB  Hyundai   3:29:56.2
 7 K Eriksson  Swe Hyundai   3:31:09.5
 8 D Auriol    Fr  Peugeot   3:33:58.8
 9 T Laukkanen Fin Toyota    3:34.22.4
10 P Hagstrom  Fin Toyota    3:36:38.4

NEWS:- Mike Conway will make his motor racing debut at Brands Hatch when he takes part in the Motoring News Spring Cup on March 11. The Sevenoaks based teenager is one of Britain's most promising racers and last year he appeared in the World Karting Championship.




11.03.2001

CART (Monterrey):- Sweden's Kenny Brack claimed pole position for Sunday's season opener. The 34-year-old's Ford-Cosworth/Lola covered the new 2.1-mile road course around Fundidora Park in 75.244 seconds for his first pole in CART competition. Christiano da Matta claimed the other slot on the front row on his debut for the Newman/Haas Racing team. Defending CART champion Gil de Ferran was third while two-time champion Alex Zanardi had a disappointing return after two years away in 22nd place.

Saturday qualifying times:   mins secs
 1 K Brack       Swe Ford     1:15.244
 2 C Da Matta    Brz Toyota   1:15.439
 3 G de Ferran   Brz Honda    1:15.551
 4 H Castroneves Brz Honda    1:15.580
 5 M Andretti    US  Honda    1:16.104
 6 P Carpentier  Can Ford     1:16.353
 7 D Franchitti  GB  Honda    1:16.375
 8 O Servia      Sp  Ford     1:16.444
 9 J Vasser      US  Toyota   1:16.456
10 R Moreno      Brz Toyota   1:16.484

INDY LIGHTS:- Britain's Dan Wheldon faces a tough challenge in the season opener after only managing to claim tenth position on the starting grid. Problems in Saturday's final session of qualifying meant the best time that Wheldon could record was one minute, 27.207 seconds. Experienced Irish driver Derek Higgins claimed pole position in 1:25.345. Wheldon, the reigning CART Toyota Atlantic 'Rookie of the Year' is making his debut for the PacWest Racing team.

RALLY OF PORTUGAL:- Tommi Makinen had the edge over Spain's Carlos Sainz to win the third round of the World Championship and now leads the driver standings. The Finn finished 8.6 seconds ahead of previous championship leader Sainz following a thrilling battle on the final stage. Reigning champion Marcus Gronholm was third in a Peugeot and was almost three minutes adrift of Makinen. Britons Richard Burns and Alister McRae were fourth and sixth respectively.

Tommi Makinen said a gamble over his tyre choice had helped him win a thrilling battle with Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard had made up a 13 seconds overnight deficit and took the lead by just a fraction of a second going into the final special stage. But Makinen won by 8.6 seconds and said: "I chose tires best suited for the final stage, but they were not the best for the one which preceded it." Fog, heavy rain and mud meant four of the 22 scheduled stages were cancelled.

Result after 22 stages:    hr min secs
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mit'bishi 3:46:42.1
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Ford          @ 8.6
 3 M Gronholm  Fin Peugeot    @ 2:55.6
 4 R Burns     GB  Subaru     @ 2.24.3
 5 F Delecour  Fr  Ford       @10.06.8
 6 A McRae     GB  Hyundai    @12.08.4
 7 K Eriksson  Swe Hyundai    @13.32.5
 8 D Auriol    Fr  Peugeot    @16.08.6
 9 T Laukkanen Fin Toyota     @16.35.9
10 P Hagstrom  Fin Toyota     @19.32.5
Stage 20 was cancelled

DRIVER STANDINGS                 Pts
1 T Makinen      Fin  Mitsubishi  20
2 C Sainz        Sp   Ford        16
3 H Rovanpera    Fin  Peugeot     10
4 F Delecour     Fr   Ford         8
5 T Radstrom     Swe  Mitsubishi   6
6 T Gardemeister Fin  Skoda        5

MANUFACTURER STANDINGS
1 Mitsubishi     33
2 Ford           20
3 Hyundai         8
4 Subaru          7
5 Skoda           6
6 Peugeot         4





12.03.2001

F1:- Benetton are hoping new modifications will help them move up the Formula One grid in Malaysia this weekend. They had a disappointing start to the season in Melbourne, as Giancarlo Fisichella and Briton Jenson Button finished in 13th and 14th respectively. The team plan to have a new bodywork package ready for Malaysia and have also incorporated some modifications to cope with expected high temperatures. "Renault Sport and France are pushing hard on development," they said.

A new head and neck support designed by an American scientist to prevent serious head, neck and spinal injuries is set to be made compulsory. The carbon fibre instrument could be introduced into official FIA rules by next year, report Ananova.com. FIA spokesman Francesco Longanesi said: "The system is currently under testing and it is taking a little bit longer due to the discomfort to drivers. We were hoping to introduce it this year but it may be delayed until 2002."

CART (Monterrey):- Christiano da Matta turned in a superb display to win the season's opening race, the first event to be held in Mexico for 20 years. It was a second career victory for Da Matta who has replaced Michael Andretti in the Newman/Haas team this season. He got the better of a mid-race battle with polesitter Kenny Brack and then held off series champion Gil de Ferran over the closing laps. De Ferran finished second with Paul Tracy claiming third place.

Sunday race result:         completed
 1 C Da Matta    Brz Toyota   78 laps
 2 G de Ferran   Brz Honda     " "
 3 P Tracy       Can K Green   " "
 4 M Andretti    US  Honda     " "
 5 K Brack       Swe Ford      " "
 6 J Vasser      US  Toyota    " "
 7 T Kanaan      Brz Honda     " "
 8 H Castroneves Brz Honda     " "
 9 D Franchitti  GB  K Green   " "
10 T Takagi      Jpn Toyota    " "

INDY LIGHTS (Monterrey):- Ireland's Derek Higgins led from the grid to the chequered flag as he gave the Mexpro team victory in the first Indy Lights race outside North America. Higgins, who lived and raced in Mexico for five years in the 1990s, came in 0.179 secs ahead of Townsend Bell. Bell's Dorricott Racing teammate Jon Fogarty finished third in his Dayton Indy Lights debut. Briton Dan Wheldon did well on his debut, finishing in fifth place having started tenth on the grid.




13.03.2001

F1: THE MALAYSIAN GP
Minardi will have a spare car available for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix after travelling to the season-opening race in Australia with no back-up. Team spokesman Graham Jones said there would be no repeat of the Melbourne problem where the team were racing against time to get the two cars ready. Tarso Marques was unable to set a qualifying time within limits at Melbourne after problems with his car. But the Brazilian was allowed to start the race from the back of the grid.

Organisers of the Malaysian Grand Prix say they will not review admission prices for next year. The sports minister made the plea as only half the 90,000 tickets have been sold for this weekend's event.

World champion Michael Schumacher is targeting his sixth straight victory in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix He won the last four races of 2000 and then triumphed in the Australian Grand Prix earlier this month. Italian Albert Ascari holds the record for the most victories in a row - nine - but Schumacher, Jim Clark, Nigel Mansell and Jack Brabham have five. Schumacher won in Sepang in the final race of last year to help Ferrari clinch the constructors' crown.

Mika Hakkinen is bidding to claim his first points of the season on Sunday after a suspension problem led to a race retirement in Melbourne. He told McLaren's website: "I am focusing on securing my first points. The whole team is optimistic that we will leave Malaysia with a good result. Sepang offers a good mixture of corners and fast straights. The only downside is the humidity. As long as we maintain our fluid intake it should not be a problem."

David Coulthard's second place in the 2001 opener in Melbourne took his total number of Formula One points to 300 and he is keen to add that landmark. "We are looking forward to building on and improving the result obtained at the previous race in Australia," Coulthard told the McLaren website. "With the opportunities Sepang offers to overtake, it should be an exciting race for both the teams and the fans. I have done a lot of training to be in top shape for the hot conditions."

Ralf Schumacher has admitted that the death of a marshal in the opening race in Melborne affected him. Jacques Villeneuve collided with Schumacher in the 2001 opener and debris hit the marshal. Williams driver Schumacher said: "I am glad to be in Malaysia. I flew here straight from Australia to recover from the trauma of the events in Melbourne. As for safety, this circuit represents the highest standards. The gravel traps are of the latest generation."

Juan Pablo Montoya has insisted that he will be able to cope with the weather in Malaysia. "The Malaysian Grand Prix is going to be quite an interesting race because with the expected very hot weather the tyres should work quite well," he said. "The FW23 can be competitive in both wet or dry conditions so I am not bothered about which weather we have. I have never raced at Sepang and it looks quite a difficult circuit to learn but we should be all right."

British American Racing boss Craig Pollock has revealed that Jacques Villeneuve was badly affected by the death of a marshal in Australia. The marshal was hit by debris from a accident involving Villeneuve's car. "He did not seem to be shaken up after the accident. The shake-up came that evening," Pollock told BAR's website. "He normally talks about accidents. This time he did not say anything, which is proof to me that he was thinking about how bad this one was."

Honda have high hopes for British American Racing and Jordan in Sunday's round two. The engine suppliers felt the teams showed potential in Melbourne. Honda's technical director Kazutoshi Nishizawa said: "The combination of heat and humidity in Kuala Lumpur gives us a slightly different challenge. Sepang has mixed characteristics which demand different strengths from the engine. Two straights need power. The rest of the track is quite technical."

Eddie Irvine has a good record at Sepang and is hoping to kickstart Jaguar's season at the circuit. Irvine admitted: "I am looking forward to this event as I won here a couple of years ago and last year I picked up the sixth-place point for Jaguar. It does not mean much but it adds to the feelgood factor. I have not tested since Australia so I have had plenty of time to concentrate on keeping fit. That is important because it could be hotter this year."

Luciano Burti is hoping to improve on his Australian eighth-place finish in Sunday's second race of the season. But the Jaguar driver conceded: "As was the case with Albert Park, I have never raced at Sepang before. While Melbourne did not start too well for me, I was fairly pleased with how it ended with my eighth-place finish. Jaguar are working very hard to focus on reliability and that was clearly demonstrated by the performance of the R2 in Australia."

Briton Jenson Button describes a lap: At the end of the pit straight I will reach around 300km/h in sixth gear before braking hard for the first turn. That will be taken in second gear at around 75km/h. Very shortly after this is another slightly slower second-gear left-hand corner taken at under 70km/h. From here I accelerate through the next right-hand corner which is taken flat up to around 285km/h in top gear. I then brake down to second gear. I then take the next right-hand corner in 105km/h. The long left-hand corner following this is taken in fourth gear - the first part at around 250km/h and then slightly losing speed down to 230km/h. The car is stabilised with a little bit of left-foot braking. This corner is followed by a right-hand curve, again taken in fourth gear at a very similar speed before accelerating on to the short straight. I go up to fifth gear and 275km/h than brake again to third gear and 170km/h for the next right-hand corner. Another similar short straight where I will get into fifth gear and about 280km/h leads to the very tight left- hand first gear corner. It is taken at just over 70km/h and a fourth-gear 230km/h corner then leads into the difficult third-gear corner. That is taken at 140km/h and has a very difficult entry. The next left-hand curve is taken very fast in fifth gear at 250km/h before braking for the penultimate corner. And that is taken in second gear at around 115km/h. Then on the back straight I will reach a very similar speed to the pit straight before braking hard for the final corner. It is taken in second gear at over 80km/h and leads to the pit straight. I will cross the line at around 265km/h.

Sunday's race is scheduled to last for 56 laps (192.920 miles). Sepang staged the final grand prix of 2000 and this year's race will be the third staged at the circuit. Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher have won the previous Sepang races. Mika Hakkinen holds the lap record at the circuit with a time of one minute, 38.451 seconds set in 2000. Sepang will test the fitness of drivers because it will be hot and humid.

AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES (Sebring)

Monday's practice times:
1 Johansson/Smith                   Audi    120.293mph
2 Capello/Alboreto/Aiello           Audi    120.287
3 Biela/Pirro/Kristensen            Audi    120.156
4 Schroeder/ Wallace/Kelleners      Audi    119.276
5 Weaver/Letzinger/ Forbes-Robinson R&Scott 116.866
6 Fellows/Kneifel/O'Connell         Chev't  110.752

BRITISH GTS:- BRITISH GT Zest Performance will field two cars in the GTO category of the Privilege Insurance British GT Championship this season. They will run a Ferrari 360 and a Lotus Esprit combination.

F.RENAULT (Brands Hatch):- Danny Watts headed testing for the Falcon Motorsport team in his first run of the season. Fourth place went to karting world champion Colin Brown for Team DFR.

Tuesday's testing times:
1 D Watts      GB   Falcon      45.026s
2 C Breeze     GB   Motaworld   45.203
3 L Walker     GB   Manor       45.238
4 C Brown      GB   DFR         45.439
5 R Antinucci  US   Manor       45.492
6 M McLoughlin GB   Motaworld   45.538

F3 (Oulton Park):- Michael Keohane produced an impressive performance to continue his fastest times in testing. The 22-year-old Irishman ended the day half a second faster than Diamond Racing's Mark Mayall.

Tuesday's testing times:
1 M Keohane            1:32.468
2 M Mayall             1:33.132
3 K Hoshino            1:33.263
4 H Primat             1:33.621
5 M Gilmore            1:33.664
6 P Nilsson            1:34.158

F3000 (Silverstone):-

Tuesday's test times:      mins secs
 1 S Bourdais    DAMS       1:36.326
 2 M Webber      Super Nova 1:36.444
 3 M Haberfeld   Super Nova 1:36.593
 4 D Manning     Arden      1:36.798
 5 J Wilson      Nordic     1:36.863
 6 A Pizzonia    Petrobas   1:36.871
 7 R Sperafico   Petrobas   1:36.983
 8 T Enge        Nordic     1:37.252
 9 B Leinders    KTR        1:37.268
10 D Saelens     European   1:37.342




16.03.2001

F1: THE MALAYSIAN GP
Jarno Trulli surprised everyone when he was quickest in the second practice session ahead of Sunday's race. The Jordan driver knocked Michael Schumacher off top spot in the closing stages of the run-out. Schumacher had taken over from Rubens Barrichello, who had been 0.6 seconds ahead, but he finished 0.083 seconds behind the Italian. David Coulthard recovered from a spin to take fourth, Eddie Irvine was fifth and Jenson Button 17th.

Jarno Trulli is hopeful that he can build on his practice performance and earn a good position in Saturday's qualifying session. After clocking the fastest time in practice, the Jordan driver said: "It was my first totally trouble-free session in a long time. I am confident that every time I step in the car I can push to 100 per cent. And I am also satisfied because we do not appear to be too far behind McLaren and Ferrari."

Williams and British American Racing have given data boxes to an inquiry into the death of a marshal at the Australian Grand Prix on March 4. Graham Beveridge died after he was hit by debris following a collision between Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher. BAR boss Craig Pollock confirmed that the black box that held all the car's performance data had been handed over. He said: "We are helping them as much as we can. There is no reason to hold anything back."

Friday's practice times:     mins secs
 1 J Trulli      It  Jordan   1:38.846
 2 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:38.929
 3 R Barrichello Brz Ferrari  1:38.931
 4 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:39.300
 5 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:39.520
 6 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:39.861
 7 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:40.197
 8 L Burti       Brz Jaguar   1:40.211
 9 O Panis       Fr  BAR      1:40.229
10 R Schumacher  Ger Williams 1:40.617
11 J Villeneuve  Can BAR      1:41.003
12 N Heidfeld    Ger Sauber   1:41.027
13 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:41.375
14 K Raikkonen   Fin Sauber   1:41.592
15 J Verstappen  Ned Arrows   1:41.794
16 J Alesi       Fr  Prost    1:41.834
17 J Button      GB  Benetton 1:42.214
18 E Bernoldi    Brz Arrows   1:42.541
19 G Mazzacane   Arg Prost    1:42.563
20 T Marques     Brz Minardi  1:42.872
21 F Alonso      Sp  Minardi  1:43.107
22 JP Montoya    Col Williams 2:13.188

ALMS (Sebring):- Oxford's Andy Wallace believes he can claim a third win in Saturday's Sebring 12-hour race after securing a place on the second row of the grid. Wallace said: "The Audi is the best sportscar I have driven. I won here in 1992 and 1993 and I have not had a better chance of adding to this tally." The Audi R8 of Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro will start from pole. Laurent Aiello, Michele Alboreto and Rinaldo Capello complete the front row.

Thursday's qualifying times:
1 E Pirro/F Biela/T Kristensen            Audi R8  1:49.110
2 R Capello/M Alboreto/L Aiello           Audi R8  1:49.477
3 A Wallace/D Schroeder/R Kelleners       Audi R8  1:49.974
4 S Johansson/G Smith                     Audi R8  1:50.903

INDY RACING LEAGUE (Phoenix):- The series that split from rival Championship Auto Racing Teams begins on Sunday with Buddy Lazier out to start his title defence in style. The championship has expanded to 13 races and six rounds will be at tracks that have never hosted the series. Lazier said: "Everybody has been sharpening their tools. We are more efficient and hopefully our pit stops will be quicker and our race strategy will have improved. It has been a productive off-season."



17.03.2001

F1: THE MALAYSIAN GP
Michael Schumacher captured his sixth successive pole position in a time of one minute 35.220 seconds, just ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello. In an exciting session, Ralf Schumacher twice led and an all-Schumacher front row was on the cards until Barrichello produced his quick late lap. Mika Hakkinen put a disappointing session behind him to take fourth late on, but David Coulthard was eighth. Eddie Irvine was 12th quickest, and Jenson Button was 17th.

Michael Schumacher described his duel with brother Ralf as "fun" as he wrapped up pole position once again. Ralf led until he was overtaken late on by his brother and the other Ferrari driver, Rubens Barrichello. "I told Ralf that our father and mother would have been having heart attacks seeing us out there," Michael said. "I would rather it was my brother up there with me than anybody else. Ralf is still young and his career is still building up."

Ralf Schumacher admitted that he was surprised to get so close to the Ferraris after finishing just behind them in qualifying. "I enjoyed that but I was surprised after our performances on Friday," he said afterwards. "We are pretty close but it will be different in the race. They still have a gap and as we saw in the last race in Australia they were playing with the others in qualifying and were well ahead of the rest."

McLaren duo Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard said there were problems with their cars after qualifying in fourth an eight spots respectively. "We have a problem which affects us in the last sector," Hakkinen said. "We know what the problem is, but we just haven't been able to solve it yet. Coulthard added: "We are struggling to find the right balance, and I'm unable to take the car to the limit. We end up driving defensively, which means inconsistent times."

Eddie Irvine said he had been held up by Jacques Villeneuve on his final qualifying run as he took 12th spot. "I thought he was on a flying lap but he held me up and then dived into the pits," he said. "A man of his experience should know better, but I don't suppose it would have made a huge difference to my qualifying position." Jenson Button was 17th and said: "I don't feel I got the best out of the car so 17th is quite disappointing."

Enrique Bernoldi will start the Malaysian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after his car was found with faulty settings during qualifying. Bernoldi finished with the 19th quickest time, nearly three and a half seconds behind Michael Schumacher. An inspection of his car by officials found the front wing and parts of the bodywork did not meet specifications. Race stewards deleted Bernoldi's performance after the team did not exercise their right to appeal.

Qualifying times (Sat):      mins secs
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:35.220
 2 R Barrichello  rz Ferrari  1:35.319
 3 R Schumacher  Ger Williams 1:35.511
 4 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:36.040
 5 J Trulli      It  Jordan   1:36.180
 6 JP Montoya    Col Williams 1:36.218
 7 J Villeneuve  Can BAR      1:36.397
 8 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:36.417
 9 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:36.578
10 O Panis       Fr  BAR      1:36.681
11 N Heidfeld    Ger Sauber   1:36.913
12 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:37.140
13 J Alesi       Fr  Prost    1:37.406
14 K Raikkonen   Fin Sauber   1:37.728
15 L Burti       Brz Jaguar   1:38.035
16 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:38.086
17 J Button      GB  Benetton 1:38.258
18 J Verstappen  Ned Arrows   1:38.509
19 G Mazzacane   Arg Prost    1:39.006
20 T Marques     Brz Minardi  1:39.714
21 F Alonso      Sp  Minardi  1:40.249
   E Bernoldi    Brz Arrows   starts from the back - irregularities

CHEROKEE RALLY:- Rally driver Richard Tuthill and John Bennie extended their lead after the second leg from 20 seconds to over two minutes. The pair, in the US after many UK rallies were cancelled, were fastest on four of the day's five stages. John Buffum and Neil Wilson are second but their team-mates Noel Lawler and Charlie Bradley posed more of a threat to the leaders. Tuthill held them off and defied the pain of a jaw infection to stay ahead.

Leaderboard after leg 2:    hr mn sec
1 Tuthill/Bennie   Mitsubishi 2:20.32
2 Buffum/Wilson    Hyundai    2:23.14
3 Burke/Cunningham Mitsubishi 2:27.11
4 Lawless/Sharkey  Mitsubishi 2:36.49
5 Paterson/Ferg'sn Mitsubishi 2:37.52

ALMS (Sebring):- Britain's Johnny Mowlem has withdrawn from the 12-hour race after the death of his co-driver Bob Wollek. Wollek died on Friday after being knocked off his bike near the circuit in Florida. The Frenchman had been due to share the driving of the Porsche with Mowlem and team owner Mike Petersen. "It's just devastating to think that he had competed in motor races for so long yet died in the circumstances he did," said 31-year-old Mowlem.

Leading positions after 2 hours:
1 Capello/Alboreto/Aiello                 Audi R8     62 laps
2 Pirro/Biela/Kristensen                  Audi R8     @ 1:01.29
3 Johansson/Smith                         Audi R8     @ 1:04.51
4 Wallace/Schroeder/Kelleners             Audi R8     @ 1 lap
5 Weaver/Leitzinger/Forbes-Robinson       Riley&Scott @ 2 laps
6 Field/Dayton/Sutherland                 Lola-Judd   @ 5 laps
7 Gavin/Konrad/Borcheller                 Saleen      @ 6 laps




18.03.2001

F1: THE MALAYSIAN GP
Michael Schumacher showed off his wet weather skills as he claimed his sixth successive grand prix victory. Schumacher was 11th after going off early, but he surged through the field to lead and was never challenged again. Team-mate Rubens Barrichello followed him home, while early leader David Coulthard finished third. Mika Hakkinen had to settle for sixth spot after a battle with fifth-placed Ralf Schumacher. Jenson Button finished 11th but Eddie Irvine went off early.

Michael Schumacher's sixth successive grand prix victory took him ahead of Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell, who each won five in a row. The last driver to win six in a row was Italian Alberto Ascari, who set the all-time record of nine consecutive wins between 1952 and 1953. Schumacher's victory, his 46th, also puts him within sight of the overall record for grand prix victories. Frenchman Alain Prost holds that mark with 51 wins.

Michael Schumacher said the decision to change to intermediate tyres when the rain began was the right one. "We both had intermediate tyres compared to some drivers, and that made a difference," he said. "It was a driver's call to go on intermediates." Schumacher and team-mate Rubens Barrichello went off early together, but both were able to come back on. "I thought it was all finished when I went off the circuit. We were lucky the cars stood in shape."

Rain brought chaos to the early part of the race, after a heavy downpour caused a number of cars to slip off. The safety car came out as it became difficult for the cars to gain any grip, and Rubens Barrichello had a lengthy stop to change his tyres. Once the downpour was over half the track was soaked, causing large amounts of spray, and half the track was dry. The start had earlier been delayed when Giancarlo Fisichella went to the wrong grid position after the parade lap.

Rubens Barrichello said he was lucky his race did not come to an end when he and Michael Schumacher went off. "When I saw Michael going off I was too close," he said. "I had no time to do anything, so I was lucky to recover and keep going. I couldn't go to the pits at that time and I think I spun three or four times because there was a lot of water. We have the best car I have ever driven. I ran off the track three or four times, so the car is very robust."

David Coulthard led when rain brought the safety car out, but he became a victim of Michael Schumacher's blitz through the field and finished third. "When the rain came it was wet on one half of the track and dry on the other," he said. "At the time it was correct to put on full wets. It looked torrential and I hadn't seen the safety car come out. If I'd known the safety car was coming I would have taken intermediates," the McLaren driver added.

A frustrated Mika Hakkinen said he never recovered from bad luck in the first lap. "I got stuck at the first corner when Ralf Schumacher spun in front of me and lost four positions," said the Finn. "After the safety car phase was over, I didn't seem to be able to make any considerable progress up the field." McLaren boss Ron Dennis added: "Off course the result of the race was unsatisfactory but Mika's fastest lap desmonstrates our potential."

Arrows driver Jos Verstappen finished seventh after running fourth for a long period, fighting off Mika Hakkinen. But he said: "The whole team should be very happy with that. After the tough start we had to the weekend it was great to be so high up in the race. We got the maximum out of the car and the maximum out of me, especially at the start. The only shame is that we just missed out on the points but we are happy that we finished the race."

Benetton's Jenson Button looked for the positives after finishing 11th. "These were really difficult conditions to drive in," he said. "The team did a great job to get us both into the pits when the rain started. I got caught up behind the pace car so I lost time while everyone else came in for their stops. Then I made a mistake and went off, which left me at the back, but I pulled up to finish 11th, so it was good to get the car to the finish."

Eddie Irvine endured a miserable race, going out after just three laps. "One of the Arrows hit me up the rear at the first corner and spun me," he said. "Then I got going again but I was at the back with Ralf Schumacher. It started to rain as I came into the last corner and three of us spun off in a row. I came in for a pitstop but there was a problem with the radiator. I think it's going to take up a couple of days to figure out exactly what happened," he added.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen had luck on his side as he finished fourth. An electrical problem on the warm-up lap meant he would have to start from the back, but a restart was ordered and he was able to move back up. "I had an electrical problem and the engine wouldn't rev," he said. "Luckily there was a restart and there was time to reset the electronics." Jarno Trulli led briefly when the Ferraris spun off, but he also had a spin and ended up eighth.

BAR had a disappointing race, with Olivier Panis going off with an oil leak and Jacques Villeneuve sliding into a gravel trap in the heavy rain. "We were on dry tyres and there were no wet lights so we couldn't see where we were going," Villeneuve said. "When the weather changes like that it's a big gamble." Panis said: "I think my oil system broke and then an engine fire started and I went off into the tyres. I was very unlucky."

The Williams team had mixed emotions at the end of the race after watching Ralf Schumacher come in fourth but seeing Juan Pablo Montoya spin off the track. "My engine died on the grid so I had to change cars and start from the pit lane and the rear traction was bad so I spun off in the rain," said Montoya. "Ralf was almost last out of the first corner, so coming fifth was good," said technical director Patrick Head. "The last set of tyres slowed him down but we've got a finish and points."

Result after 55 laps:        hr min sec
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari 1:47.34.80
 2 R Barrichello Brz Ferrari 1:47.58.46
 3 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren 1:48.03.36
 4 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan  1:48.21.34
 5 R Schumacher  Ger W'liams 1:48.23.03
 6 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren 1:48.23.41
 7 J Verstappen  Ned Arrows  1:48.56.36
 8 J Trulli      It  Jordan     one lap
 9 J Alesi       Fr  Prost      one lap
10 L Burti       Brz Jaguar     one lap
11 J Button      GB  Benetton  two laps
12 G Mazzacane   Arg Prost     two laps
13 F Alonso      Sp  Minardi three laps
14 T Marques     Brz Minardi  four laps
DID NOT FINISH:           
Laps completed
   G Fisichella  It  Benetton     31
   JP Montoya    Col Williams      3
   J Villeneuve  Can BAR           3
   N Heidfeld    Ger Sauber        3
   E Bernoldi    Brz Arrows        3
   E Irvine      GB  Jaguar        3
   O Panis       Fr  BAR           1
   K Raikkonen   Fin Sauber        0

DRIVER STANDINGS
1 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari   20 pts
2 R Barrichello Brz  Ferrari   10
= D Coulthard   GB   McLaren   10
4 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Jordan     5
5 N Heidfeld    Ger  Sauber     3
6 R Schumacher  Ger  Williams   2
7 K Raikkonen   Fin  Sauber     1
= M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren    1

CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Ferrari       30 pts
2 McLaren       11
3 Jordan         5
4 Sauber         4
5 Williams       2

CHEROKEE RALLY:- Britons Richard Tuthill and co-driver John Bennie won the race in convincing style in Chattanooga. The pair's Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IV run by Californian based Winning Makes Rally Team was fastest on all of the day's four stages. They ended up leadin home American John Buffum by over four minutes. The next round of the North American Championship is in 3 weeks, where Winning Makes will be looking to continue their winning run.

Richard Tuthill praised his team after victory with compatriot John Bennie. "I'm delighted both for myself, it's my first International Rally win, and also for the team," said the Briton. "We have driven consistently and within ourselves for most of the rally." Bennie added: "In an unknown car we were on the pace right from the start. Today was cruise mode. I'm surprised we were fastest on all stages but that shows the class of Richard's driving."

Results:            
hr mn sec
 1 Tuthill/Bennie     3:19.20
 2 Buffum/Wilson      3:24.07
 3 Burke/Cunningham   3:27.50
 4 Paterson/Ferg'sn   3:41.22
 5 Havas/H'ricksen    3:46.18
 6 K'kowski/K'wski    3:46.31
 7 O'S'livan/Dillon   3:47.13
 8 Drislane/Goodman   3:47.15
 9 Whitman/Gibault    3:54.32
10 Hajduczyk/Cox      3:59.26

ALMS (Sebring):- Andy Wallace was the top of three Englishmen to finish in the top six in the last major test before Le Mans. Wallace and Guy Smith finished third and fourth respectively in their privateer Audis while Oliver Gavin's Saleen in sixth was top of his class. Audis dominated the top four places with Rinaldo Capello, Laurent Aiello and Michele Alboreto claiming victory. Briton James Weaver was forced to retire with an engine problem while Gavin Pickering finished 19th.

Andy Wallace was thrilled with the performance of his car after finishing in third place. "This is a really great result for the team," said the 40-year-old. "We've not had the car long and haven't done much testing, yet it went great." Guy Smith, who led for a couple of laps before ending fourth, added: "I wasn't aware I was leader, it was so brief. It was a shame we lost so much time in the pits. This was always going to be a 12-hour testing session for us."

Final leading positions:
1 Capello/Alboreto/Aiello                 Audi R8      370 laps
2 Pirro/Biela/Kristensen                  Audi R8      @ 0.482
3 Wallace/Schroeder/Kelleners             Audi R8      @ 4 laps
4 Johansson/Smith                         Audi R8      @ 8 laps
5 Field/Dayton/Sutherland                 Lola-Judd    @ 38 laps
6 Gavin/Konrad/Borcheller                 Saleen       @ 38 laps
7 Pilgrim/Collins/Freon                   Chevrolet    @ 39 laps

INDY RACING LEAGUE (Phoenix):- Greg Ray took pole position with a lap of 177.663mph to edge out Sam Hornish at the front of the grid. Jeff Ward was third fastest, followed by Stephan Gregoir and defending CART champion Gil de Ferran. "I'm very proud of the guys at Team Menard, they did a great job," Ray said of his pole position. "This morning was the first time we tried to get the car to go quick. We knew the conditions were good, but we had no idea how fast we could go."



19.03.2001

F1:- Eddie Jordan fears the Ferrari team can win all 17 races this year. Michael Schumacher led a Ferrari one- two in Kuala Lumpur to follow his victory in the opening race. "At the moment nobody can touch Ferrari. You can assume that they will be first and second in every race from now on," said Jordan. "It's difficult to see anyone that could beat them. Michael is basically out for a Sunday drive and it's frustrating for the rest of us."

IRL (Phoenix):- Sam Hornish shrugged off two pit row incidents to win his first Indy-car race, capturing the opening event of the Indy Racing League's sixth season. The 21-year-old American started second, his first IRL front-row start, and completed 200 laps to take the flag in only his ninth IRL appearance. "The car was great. The team did an awesome job. Nine tries and I won on the ninth. It feels great," he said. Chile's Eliseo Salazar was second while Buddy Lazier came third.

Sunday's race result: hr mn sec
 1 S Hornish   US     1:36.56
 2 E Salazar   Chi    @  1.378
 3 B Lazier    US     same lap
 4 S Sharp     US     same lap
 5 B Boat      US     same lap
 6 F Giaffone  Brz    @  1 lap
 7 J Ward      US     @  1 lap
 8 R McGhee    US     @ 2 laps
 9 B Calkins   US     @ 3 laps
10 A Dare      Brz    @ 3 laps





20.03.2001

F1:- Williams driver Ralf Schumacher believes he can thwart his brother Michael's bid to equal the record of nine successive grand prix wins. Ferrari's Schumacher needs three more victories to match Albert Ascari's total, which was set in 1953. But his younger brother Ralf said: "I hope Michael is not going to win nine because I want to win one of the next races if I can. "Ferrari are looking very strong but no-one is unbeatable."

F1 TESTING (Barcelona):- Ferrari's Luca Badoer produced an impressive performance as he recorded the quickest time in testing. Alexander Wurz was second quickest while the Benetton team tried four different tyre combinations in Mark Webber's testing.

Tuesday's test testing times:
1 L Badoer      It  Ferrari  1:21.031
2 A Wurz        Aut McLaren  1:21.717
3 J Herbert     GB  Arrows   1:22.315
4 M Webber      Aus Benetton 1:22.419
5 M Gene        Sp  Williams 1:22.709

F3 (Snetterton):- Nicolas Kiesa set the quickest time in testing for the Green Flag Formula Three Championship. a second faster than Derek Hayes who is driving for the reigning champions Manor Motorsport.

Tuesday's best testing times:
1 N Kiesa      Opel       1:02.173
2 D Hayes      Manor      1:02.188
3 R Dalziel    Opel       1:02.298
4 M Davies     Avanti     1:02.357
5 T Sato       Carlin     1:02.433




23.03.2001

F1:- Allan McNish has been confirmed as Toyota's second driver when they make their F1 debut next season. The 31-year-old Scot, who won the American Le Mans Series title last year, will partner Findland's Mika Salo "McNish will race with us unless something really bad happens," Toyota's motorsport president Ove Andersson said. "We believe both our drivers will be able to help us move forward with our project because of their past experience," he added.

German media giant Kirch have approached Formula One manufacturers with an offer for a stake in the commercial rights of the sport. Kirch and partner company EM.TV own 75% of holding company SLEC which controls commercial rights with Bernie Ecclestone owning 25%. Manufacturers have been increasingly concerned over Kirch's growing influence in the sport. They have threatened to set up their own circuit.

Toyota unveiled their new Formula One test car at the Paul Ricard circuit in France on Friday ahead of their entry to the competition in 2002. Toyota have manufactured their own chassis and engine from their Cologne base in Germany.

CATALUNYA RALLY:- Jesus Puras held a narrow lead after the first leg on a day when Colin McRae and world champion Marcus Gronholm were both forced to retire. Puras holds an 8.7-second advantage over teammate Philippe Bugalski in Citroen's first world rally in 2001. McRae's engine broke down before the special sixth stage while Gronholm had to retire after losing a wheel. Britain's Richard Burns was 15th after losing two minutes with a faulty gear box. Alastair McRae was just behind.

Colin McRae admitted his world title hopes this year are over after being forced to retire from the first leg with engine trouble. The Scotsman vented his frustration after failing to win a single point after four rounds of the championship. "I think we should give up on the title this year and concentrate on getting our problems sorted out. We should start afresh next year as something is clearly not right at the moment," he said.

Leading positions after first leg:
                            hr mns sec
 1 J Puras     Sp  Citroen   1h02:44.9
 2 P Bugalski  Fr  Citroen      @  8.7
 3 D Auriol    Fr  Peugeot      @ 11.2
 4 G Panizzi   Fr  Peugeot      @ 18.5
 5 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi   @ 24.1
 6 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi   @ 51.5
 7 S Canellas  Sp  SEAT        @1:03.9
 8 F Delecour  Fr  Ford        @1:07.9
 9 C Sainz     Sp  Ford        @1:11.5
10 M Martin    Est Subaru      @1:20.2
15 R Burns     GB  Subaru      @1:51.3
16 A McRae     GB  Hyundai     @1:51.4

Retirements:
   C McRae     GB  6th stage, engine
   M Gronholm  Fin 5th stage, lost wheel






24.03.2001

F1:- Jenson Button is determined to stay positive despite his indifferent start to the season. Next week he drives in the Brazilian Grand Prix, scene of his first point last season, but he could be some way from breaking his duck for this year. "I am not downhearted at all," he said. "It is tough at the moment but can only be a good experience for the future. It is frustrating as I am a racing driver and I want to be winning but it is a long-term thing."

CATALUNYA RALLY:- Citreon's French driver Philippe Bugalski led the rally at the end of the second day. However, the teams hopes of a one-two finish were hit when Spaniard Jesus Puras was forced to retire with a fuel feed problem. Didier Auriol is the biggest threat to Bugalski, but he played down his chances of claiming a win from second. It was a good day for Richard Burns, who moved up from 15th overnight to lie in eighth place.

Leading positions after second leg:
                             hr mns sec
 1 P Bugalski  Fr  Citroen    2:24.42.3
 2 D Auriol    Fr  Peugeot    2:25.10.0
 3 G Panizzi   Fr  Peugeot    2:25.52.7
 4 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 2:26.05.1
 5 C Sainz     Sp  Ford       2:27.05.8
 6 F Delecour  Fr  Ford       2:27.06.2
 7 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi 2:27.08.6
 8 R Burns     GB  Subaru     2:27.28.1
 9 S J-Joseph  Fr  Peugeot    2:28.31.7
10 B Thiry     Bel Skoda      2:29.29.6
12 A McRae     GB  Hyundai    2:29.54.5

F.FORD:- Mike Conway, winner of the British Formula A Karting Championship last year, makes his debut in the Formula Ford Championship this weekend.




25.03.2001

F1:- Mika Salo was unhurt after a 220km/h crash while testing Toyota's new car at France's Paul Ricard circuit. The Finn hit a wall after braking at the end of the Mistral straight but left the car unaided before being taken to hospital for a check-up. Team doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli said: "Mika has no injuries, just some back pain, and I recommended he take some rest before continuing with testing." Toyota are set to make their Formula One debut in 2002.

CATERHAM SUPERLIGHT (Snetterton):-

Round one result (after 25 laps):
1 J Gladman     GB  31:09.492
2 P Gladman     GB   @ 03.981
3 S Worley      GB   @ 04 315
4 C Cooper      GB   @ 15.531
5 R Garofall    GB   @ 15.929
6 A Delahunty   GB   @ 16.082

CATERHAM ROADSPORT

Round two result (after 23 laps):
1 M Gregory     GB  31:03.545
2 G Spurr       GB   @ 00.751
3 K Robinson    GB   @ 00.982
4 J Sutherland  GB   @ 01.348
5 J Derbyshire  GB   @ 04.811
6 F Gibney      GB   @ 08.001

CATALUNYA RALLY:- Didier Auriol ended an 18-month wait for victory by winning the rally ahead of Peugeot team-mate Gilles Panizzi. Auriol started the day in second spot but went clear when overnight leader Philippe Bugalski was given a two- minute penalty after clutch problems. Bugalski was docked another two minutes after he lost a post-event appeal and dropped from fourth to eighth. Championship leader Tommi Makinen claimed third spot and Briton Richard Burns finished seventh.

Leading final positions:     hr min sec
 1 D Auriol    Fr  Peugeot    3:40.54.7
 2 G Panizzi   Fr  Peugeot       @ 23.2
 3 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi  @ 1.01.4
 4 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi  @ 2.16.7
 5 C Sainz     Sp  Ford        @ 2.35.7
 6 F Delecour  Fr  Ford        @ 2.43.7
 7 R Burns     GB  Subaru      @ 3.02.8
 8 P Bugalski  Fr  Citroen     @ 3.25.7
 9 S J-Joseph  Fr  Peugeot     @ 4.59.3
10 B Thiry     Bel Skoda       @ 6.03.9
11 A McRae     GB  Hyundai     @ 6.30.6

Bugalski given two-minute penalty during rally and another two minutes after post-event appeal

DRIVER STANDINGS
1 T Makinen      Fin  Mitsubishi 24pts
2 C Sainz        Sp   Ford       18
3 H Rovanpera    Fin  Peugeot    10
= D Auriol       Fr   Peugeot    10
5 F Delecour     Fr   Ford        9
6 G Panizzi      Fr   Peugeot     6
= T Radstrom     Swe  Mitsubishi  6

MANUFACTURER STANDINGS
1 Mitsubishi     40pts
2 Ford           22
3 Peugeot        20
4 Hyundai         8
5 Subaru          7
6 Skoda           6


F.FORD:- Mike Conway qualified on the front row of the grid on his debut Formula Ford Championship at Snetterton, one-tenth of a second behind Tom Gaymor.




26.03.2001

F3000:- Formula 3000 makes its debut in Brazil as the new season gets under way at the Ingerlagos circuit on the outskirts of Sao Paulo on Saturday. Several Brazilian drivers will be on the grid which should lead to a partisan home crowd. This season also sees the championship grow from 10 Formula One support events to 12 with Monza the other new venue. It means the series is playing on the world stage for the first time in its history.

RALLYING:- Richard Burns has called for one year bans for cheats after controversy dogged the weekend's Catalunya Rally. Jesus Puras denied being involved in pre-race reconnaissance but a spot check found he had written notes on a new stage of the race. "There's no need for anyone to have any advantage on any stages, by themselves or with someone else," said Burns. "They should get one year bans. Anyone who employs them after that is taking a risk - more fool them."

BTCC:- Former world superbikes rider Aaron Slight is changing from two wheels to four and will compete in the British Touring Car Championship this year. The 35-year-old New Zealander, who has won 13 world superbike races, has limited four-wheel experience but will compete in 10 races this year. "I have always wanted to race cars," revealed," said Slight. Meanwhile, five-time 500cc champion Mick Doohan is making his motor racing debut in a rally in Tasmania.

F.RENAULT:- American Richard Antinucci was the fastest driver in Monday's testing session at Silverstone. Only one second covered the top 13 drivers, with the top seven cars all quicker than the existing lap record.

Fastest times              mins secs
1 R Antinucci   Manor       1:20.588
2 L Walker      Manor       1:20.815
3 D Watts       Falcon      1:20.866
4 C Breeze      Motaworld   1:20.877
5 M McLoughlin  Motaworld   1:20.921
6 C Brown       DFR         1:21.121


CLIO CUP:- Jason Templeman was the fastest of the 24 drivers at Silverstone in testing for the Clio Cup. Six different teams were represented in the top six, which suggests the coming campaign will be fiercely fought.

Fastest times              mins secs
1 J Templeman   TCR         1:34.919
2 T Mullen      Firstair    1:35.131
3 D Buxton      Sugden      1:35.148
4 M Byford      Z Speed     1:35.466
5 M Nordon      Bintcliffe  1:35.686
6 P Rivett      Stancombe   1:35.702

BRITISH GTS:- Boyzone singer Shane Lynch will make his debut in the British GT Championship at Silverstone this weekend as part of the Eclipse team. Lynch, who has raced with the team for the almost two years, will partner Michael Mallock.

F.NISSAN:- Tomas Scheckter, the 21-year-old South Africa who is test-driving for Jaguar, will contest the Nissan Championship this season. In two races at the end of last season, Scheckter came first and second.




27.03.2001

BTCC:- Anthony Reid plans to impress in the final three rounds of the revamped British Touring Car Championship. The MG-team driver said: "We're looking to do the last three or four race meetings. It all coincides with the launch of the new MGX20."

F3:- Takuma Sato was the fastest driver in testing for the Green Flag British F3 Championship at Silverstone. In foul weather, Sato came in ahead of Gianmarca Bruni and Anthony Davidson.

IRL:- Michael Andretti is to compete in this year's Indy 500, five years after his last run out in the event. Andretti, who has competed in it 11 times, has led 382 laps in the race, more than any other driver who has not actually won the event outright.



28.03.2001

F1: THE BRAZILIAN GP
Michael Schumacher is chasing a seventh straight grand prix victory on Sunday and also his seventh pole in a row. And if the Ferrari star does clinch victory the omens are good for the world champion reclaiming his crown. The race winner at Interlagos has ended the season as champion for the past seven years. The late great Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna was the last driver to win at Interlagos and not secure the championship in 1993.

David Coulthard will not want to repeat last year's experience at the Brazilian Grand Prix if he is to continue as McLaren's early-season pacesetter. The Scot was disqualified following post-race scrutineering. He is currently the leading McLaren driver, having picked up 10 points to ex-world champion Mika Hakkinen's one. But he has hinted that it may not be until the series moves to Europe next month that any improvement will be seen with the car.

David Coulthard has admitted that the Interlagos track is a testing one for the drivers. He said: "It is a greater physical challenge than some of the other tracks and demands a high level of fitness. "I have been focusing on fitness over the winter. The circuit also offers genuine overtaking opportunities, particularly the first corner. Historically the Brazilian race has been successful for the McLaren team and I hope we can continue this trend."

Mika Hakkinen would no doubt relish a similar result to that of three years ago in Sunday's race. He and McLaren team-mate David Coulthard started on the front row of the grid and they stayed that way in the race to clinch a one-two. The former world champion followed up that win in 1998 with another Interlagos triumph a year later. Hakkinen stated: "I enjoy racing at Interlagos as the Brazilian fans have a real passion for the sport."

Jordan are third in the constructors' list after two races and, if Ferrari and McLaren continue to be uncatchable, that is where they want to stay. Team boss Eddie Jordan said: "Third is where the team wants to stay. The first two races have gone well but we are up against stiff competition. Heinz-Harald Frentzen has finished third in Brazil for two years running. If we can maintain that form and see Jarno Trulli in the points then it would be perfect."

Jarno Trulli was fourth in Brazil last year and would relish a repeat display to kickstart his 2001 campaign. The Italian has not picked up any points in the first two races. But he said: "Last year we scored our first points at this race so I would like a repeat performance. Interlagos is a nice circuit but it is technical and tough and very twisty. I always like driving in Brazil as the circuit suits my driving style."

Ralf Schumacher believes the Brazilian circuit may suit his Williams car. The German stated: "The Interlagos track should be a really good one for us, a bit like Malaysia. Usually in Brazil it is warm, which helps our tyres and does not affect our engine, which is very good anyway. I see problems only if it should rain. On a wet track or when it is drying out we still have some gaps. I hope the surface has improved. It normally gives me a headache after a few laps."

Juan Pablo Montoya is bidding to secure his first points of the year on Sunday. Williams' Colombian driver said: "The Brazilian Grand Prix should be a positive race weekend as Interlagos is a good track for us. "I have never been there but have fond memories of Brazil because I have raced in Rio de Janeiro with the champ cars and I won there. It should be pretty exciting as this is the closest race to my country. I expect to see lots of Colombian fans."

Jenson Button clinched his first grand prix point at Interlagos last year but is realistic enough to know that a sixth-place finish is unlikely now. The then Williams driver was promoted after second-placed David Coulthard was disqualified but Button's fortunes have changed since his move to Benetton. He did not finish in Australia and was 11th in Malaysia but he said: "I think Brazil will be a slight improvement. Hopefully when we race in Europe things will get a little better."

Interlagos has not proved to be the luckiest circuit for Eddie Irvine, who has been hit by three retirements in Brazil since 1994. His best-placed finish came in 1999 when he was fifth for Ferrari but that is the only time he has managed to be in the points at the circuit. Irvine and Brazilian team-mate Luciano Burti have yet to score a 2001 point. But Burti, who is one of six current drivers still to score in Formula One, will be keen to shine in his home race.

Giancarlo Fisichella describes a lap:- Having passed the start-finish line I will reach around 310km/h at the end of the pit straight before braking hard for the very difficult first corner. That drops away and is taken in second gear at around 105km/h. This is immediately followed by a right-hand corner. I will then shift up to third gear and take the corner at around 155km/h, having to use part throttle to balance the car. The long, sweeping left-hand corner that leads on to the back straight is taken flat. You start in third gear at around 200km/h and then exit in fifth gear at over 250km/h. On the back straight I will achieve a similar speed to the pit straight and the actual point of maximum speed will depend on the wind. But, typically, we will again reach 310km/h before braking for turn four. Turn four is taken in third gear at 135km/h and the left-hand corner leads into a second part, which is taken in fourth gear at around 240km/h. A fifth-gear straight, where I will reach 285km/h, leads into a complex of corners - the first part of which is taken in fourth gear at 200km/hr. This long, right-hand corner requires a very fine balance of the throttle. That is so not to upset the car on the entry to turn seven. Turn seven is a slow, tight, right-hand corner taken in first gear and at just over 70km/h. Turn eight is also slow and taken in second gear at 100km/h and traction out of here is quite difficult. The following straight is quite short as I erach fourth gear and around 210km/h before braking hard for the slowest corner of the track, turn nine. I will take this in first gear at around 70km/h. From here I accelerate through turn 10, which is a long.left-hand corner taken in fourth gear at around 205km/h. Again I have to feather the throttle to balance the car through this corner. I will approach the last corner in fifth gear at around 255km/h before entering one of the most critical corners on the circuit, turn 11. It is taken in second at 110km/h and is a very long corner - 650m. Then a good exit is needed on to the pit straight.

Sunday's race is scheduled to last for 71 laps (190.124 miles). World champion Michael Schumacher holds the lap record at Interlagos with a time of one minute, 14.755 seconds set last year. Interlagos is the only track on the Formula One calendar, apart from Imola, that runs anti-clockwise. The Sao Paulo circuit was resurfaced last year but the track remains bumpy. It is built in a hilly area so there are some steep gradients.

ISC:- The Interactive Sportscar Championship has agreed a three-year contract with Granada Sport to work towards an interactive service by next year.




29.03.2001

F1:- Luciano Burti has told Jaguar team-mate Eddie Irvine that he will face a fight for his future with the team. Pedro de la Rosa has already clinched a drive with Jaguar for 2002, which leaves one place up for grabs. Irvine is expected to see out his deal with the team but Burti is refusing to give up. He said: "It could be Eddie or me or another driver. He has more of a chance of continuing with the team but it does not mean it is a certainty."

Michael Schumacher has said he will not negotiate a new Formula One contract until the end of this year. The world champion said: "I do not know what offers my manager has for me but he has been told not to negotiate. I am not going to deal with this until the end of the year," Schumacher, who is preparing for the Brazil Grand Prix. Schumacher's contract with Ferrari finishes at the end of next year, and an Italian newspaper has linked the German with a possible move to Toyota.

Michael Schumacher says that he and Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello need to talk after a disagreement at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Schumacher apparently upset Barrichello when he overtook him after both had skidded off during a tropical downpour after the Brazilian had urged caution. "It's like many relationships, you have difficult moments," said Schumacher. "But I don't see that being a bad bad situation, having a disagreement. We can talk and find a solution."

Minardi have announced that Loic Bigois will be their new Head of Aerodynamics. He will spend much of his time at the Fondmetal Technologies wind tunnel. Over 50,000 of the 59,000 race day grandstand seats for the British Grand Prix this summer have now been sold. Jaguar's plans to move their Formula One headquarters to Silverstone are on hold and the team are looking at other sites, team boss Bobby Rahal said.

F3000:- Formula One hopeful Darren Manning is confident of a podium finish on Saturday despite never having raced at Brazil's Interlagos circuit before. It is the first time that the circuit has been included in the F3000 international championship. Manning will have just three days to familiarise himself with the track and said: "It doesn't give us a much time. "But all the drivers will be in the same position, so no-one has got an advantage over anyone else."

BRITISH F3:- Towcester-based Andy Priaulx will be a key-player in the 2001 championship when the season starts on Sunday. Priaulx, who is aimimg to get his season off to a flying start, said: "I love racing a Silverstone. It's my home track and the circuit has a special atmosphere. I took my first F3 position at Silverstone last season and I want to carry on that form." Priaulx will have the special support of his baby son Sebastian, who will be there to cheer his father on.

BRITISH GT'S:- Calum Lockie, who won the championship last year, is about to start his title defence and aims to keep on winning. "Silverstone is the ideal place to start the defence of my title. It will be tough to do it again but we'll give it our best shot," said Lockie. Former touring car champion Tim Harvey is determined to win the 2001 title as he starts his bid in Sunday's opener. Harvey will be among the pre-season favourites after a highly succesful test programme in February and March.

TVR TUSCAN CHALLENGE (Silverstone):- Steve Guglielmi is a real contender for this year's honours but wants to focus on his own racing and let the battle for the title take its course. Guglielmi took a year out of racing last time round, but was quick to say without hesitation: "I missed it. I was approached by Bert Taylor from Countdown Developments and he said they wanted to win the championship. He asked me if I'd got the enthusiasm. I said yes, but I only wanted to attempt it if we had a winning chance."




30.03.2001

F1: THE BRAZILIAN GP
David Coulthard produced an impressive display to set the fastest time in the second session of free practice. Jarno Trulli in the Jordan was second quickest ahead of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher in third. Eddie Irvine finished the second session in 10th, while Jenson Button's problems continued in the Williams as he finished in 22nd place. Michael Schumacher set the fastest time in the first session, coming home in a time of one minute 16.832 seconds.

Friday's second practice times:mins secs
 1 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:15.220
 2 J Trulli      It  Jordan   1:16.224
 3 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:16.598
 4 JP Montoya    Col Williams 1:16.851
 5 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:16.882
 6 R Schumacher  Ger Williams 1:16.929
 7 R Barrichello Brz Ferrari  1:16.994
 8 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:17.072
 9 N Heidfeld    Ger Sauber   1:17.102
10 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:17.295
11 L Burti       Brz Jaguar   1:17.430
12 O Panis       Fr  BAR      1:17.432
13 J Villenueve  Can BAR      1:17.455
14 J Alesi       Fr  Prost    1:17.518
15 K Raikkonen   Fin Sauber   1:17.712
16 J Verstappen  Hol Arrows   1:17.792
17 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:18.096
18 F Alonso      Sp  Minardi  1:18.222
19 E Bernoldi    Brz Arrows   1:18.233
20 G Mazzacane   Arg Prost    1:18.269
21 T Marques     Brz Minardi  1:19.005
22 J Button      GB  Benetton 1:19.585

Jaguar Racing boss Bobby Rahal narrowly escaped injury in the team's garage at the Brazilian Grand Prix. A camera and its support structure fell to the floor missing Rahal by just 30 centimetres. The heavy scaffolding, which runs above all the garages at Interlagos, fell as 40 team members were working. Jaguar spokesman Nav Sidhult said: "That camera is so heavy if it had hit someone they would have been killed. We were very lucky."

Brazil's Rubens Barrichello is determined to shatter world champion Michael Schumacher's bid for the Formula One record books. Barrichello is confident he can triumph in his home race on Sunday to end the German's run of six straight victories. Schumacher would be just two wins away from equalling Alberto Ascari's all-time record if he wins at Interlagos. "I am now sure that I can beat Michael and this weekend is going to be very special for me," said Barrichello.

Minardi have protested to Formula One's ruling body after becoming the latest victims of thieves at the Brazilian Grand Prix. The disappearance of seven wheel rims from the supposedly secure team garages came a day after team manager Tony Lees was robbed at gunpoint in Sao Paulo. "We've just written a fairly strongly worded letter to the FIA about it," said team spokesman Graham Jones. Jaguar had seven laptop computers stolen from their garages on Wednesday.

BRITISH F3:- Carlin Motorsport's Anthony Davidson is hoping to learn some tricks from his teammate Takuma Sato this season. Sato led the way in Tuesday's rain-dren ched testing session at Silverstone, just ahead of Italian Gianmaria Bruni. "I'm focusing on Takuma. He's been quicker more-or-less everywhere so far and he's got the upper hand in terms of experience," Davidson explained. Scottish teenager Ryan Dalziel has been the quickest British driver in testing and said: "I'm happy with our display."




31.03.2001

F1: THE BRAZILIAN GP
World champion Michael Schumacher will be on pole position for Sunday's race and will be joined on the front row by his brother Ralf. It is the first time that brothers have filled the top spots on the grid And Schumacher senior's pole leaves him one short of Ayrton Senna's record of eight in a row. Mika Hakkinen was third quickest, while his McLaren team-mate David Coulthard was fifth fastest. Eddie Irvine was 13th and Jenson Button was 20th.

Michael Schumacher has insisted that he is not fazed by having his brother Ralf joining him on the front row. After claiming pole, Schumacher senior said: "It is a great pleasure to see my little brother beside me. I am not surprised to see him alongside me. Our parents will be happy but maybe not at the first corner but let us see what happens. We have separate interests and we will not make a crash out of it but it will be tight."

Saturday's qualifying results:mins secs
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:13.780
 2 R Schumacher  Ger Williams 1:14.090
 3 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:14.122
 4 J Montoya     Col Williams 1:14.165
 5 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:14.178
 6 R Barrichello Brz Ferrari  1:14.191
 7 J Trulli      It  Jordan   1:14.630
 8 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:14.633
 9 N Heidfeld    Ger Sauber   1:14.810
10 K Raikkonen   Fin Sauber   1:14.924
11 O Panis       Fr  BAR      1:15.046
12 J Villeneuve  Can BAR      1:15.182
13 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:15.192
14 L Burti       Brz Jaguar   1:15.371
15 J Alesi       Fr  Prost    1:15.437
16 E Bernoldi    Brz Arrows   1:15.657
17 J Verstappen  Ned Arrows   1:15.704
18 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:16.175
19 F Alonso      Sp  Minardi  1:16.184
20 J Button      GB  Benetton 1:16.229
21 G Mazzacane   Arg Prost    1:16.520
22 T Marques     Brz Minardi  1:16.784

F3000 (Interlagos):- Justin Wilson scored the first win of his F3000 career in the opening race of the season in Brazil. Starting seventh on the grid, the 22- year-old from Sheffield came in 3.6 seconds ahead of Australian driver Mark Webber of the Super Nova team. Darren Manning, who started 14th on the grid, finished in eighth and on his debut for the KJR/Monaco team, Justin Keen finished in 16th. Brazil's Jaime Melo, who starte in pole, finished in third place.

Friday's qualifying times:   mins secs
 1 J Melo        Br  Durango  1:26.732
 2 R Sperafico   Br  Petro'   1:26.804
 3 R Sperafico   Br  Coloni   1:26.930
 4 A Pizzonia    Br  Petro'   1:26.998
 5 T Enge        Cze Nordic   1:27.118
 6 G Pantano     It  Ast'mega 1:27.127
 7 J Wilson      GB  Nordic   1:27.237
 8 D Saelens     Bel Minardi  1:27.315
 9 M Haberfeld   Br  Super No 1:27.325
10 M Webber      Aus Super No 1:27.556

BRITISH GT'S (Silverstone):-

Final qualifying times (Sat):
GT                         mins secs
1 Harvey/Wilson    Chrysler 1:19.919
2 Jordan/Warnock   Lister   1:20.345
3 Verdon-Roe/Caine TVR      1:21.079
4 Lockie/Euser     Marcos   1:21.243

GTO
1 Hayles/Devlin    Chrysler 1:23.661
2 Rymer/Simmons    Porsche  1:24.190
3 Turner/Horner    Porsche  1:24.383
4 Franchitti/Burt  Porsche  1:24.403

FORD FIESTA'S (Silverstone):- Colin Turkington claimed pole position for Sunday's opening round. The 19-year-old student from Norther Ireland qualified six tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Terence Clark and independent driver Matt Pinny.

Qualifying times (Sat):
               mins secs
1 C Turkington  1:46.056
2 T Clark       1:46.678
3 M Pinny       1:46.900
4 N Padley      1:47.200
5 A Blencowe    1:47.341

F.FORD (Silverstone):- Swedes Richard Goransson and Robert Dahlgren will start alongside each other on the front row of the grid for Sunday's opening round. American Patrick Long was third fastest while Ryan Sharp from Scotland was the top Britain.

Qualifying times (Sat):
               mins secs
1 R Goransson   1:25.667
2 R Dahlgren    1:25.794
3 P Long        1:25.825
4 R Bremner     1:25.860
5 R Rudholm     1:25.935

PORSCHE CUP (Silverstone):- Peter Chambers overcame tricky conditions and the challenge of Craig Rapp to win the opening round. Chambers took the lead when Rapp spin and stayed clear of Nigel Rice and former rally driver Barbara Armstrong.

Results (Sat):
1 P Chambers
2 N Rice
3 B Armstrong
4 C Rapp
Class winners: K Harrison, I Croft